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Hateful rhetoric against HDP cited as reason for attack on party

People shout slogans as they sit with placards during a protest against armed attack on Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Izmir headquarters, in Istanbul, on June 17, 2021. An assailant killed a woman in an attack on a provincial office of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party on June 17, 2021, the party said. The attack that killed the party official occurred in the western province of Izmir, it said in a statement. The HDP is the Turkish parliament's third-largest party, which the government is trying to ban over alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants. Engin GUNEYSU / AFP

Hateful rhetoric employed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its election partner, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), against the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) laid the groundwork for an attack on the party’s İzmir office on Thursday that left one employee dead, according to a statement from 10 law associations.

HDP party employee Deniz Poyraz, 38, was killed after an armed man attacked the party’s office in İzmir on Thursday morning.

The attack came at a time of increased pressure on the party, which is accused of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as it faces a closure case on terrorism charges and hundreds of its politicians including two former co-chairs are behind bars on politically motivated charges.

Ten law organizations including Jurists for Justice, Lawyers’ Solidarity, the İstanbul branch of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association, Contemporary Lawyers’ Group, Jurists for Democracy and Jurists for Freedom released a statement on Friday in which they blamed the ruling party and its partner for Poyraz’s death.

“The statements of the government bloc threatening, intimidating and threatening the opposition, mainly the HDP, and their spokespersons who terrorize the HDP in live broadcasts every day paved the way for the murder of Deniz,” said the jurists’ statement.

The jurists said the people who insisted on the launch of a closure case against the HDP such as MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who threatens the opposition, as well as those who resort to provocative actions in the trial of dozens of Kurdish politicians concerning the deadly protests of 2014 in southeastern Turkey are responsible for Poyraz’s death.

The MHP has been targeting the HDP with genocidal language. Bahçeli defined the HDP in December 2020 as “poisonous vermin” and repeatedly called for its closure.

Both Bahçeli and Erdoğan see the party as the political front of the outlawed PKK.

The jurists in their statement called on the government and its election partner to put an end to the discriminatory and hateful rhetoric they have been using against the HDP, recalling that the state is responsible for protecting the life of each of its citizens.

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